C-Mendo Sits = Tigers Win?
It's far too simplistic to say Detroit won last night because Marcus Thames played in left field instead of Craig "Mendoza" Monroe. But it seems worth noting that not having that donut at the bottom of the batting order helped the Tigers produce some runs. Jim Leyland insists this isn't a permanent move (and with that, you can see why his players respect him as they do), hoping that Monroe can repeat his July and August production of last year. But after C-Mendo put up another 0-for-4 on Tuesday night, shouldn't he be strongly considering it? He says he'll play it by ear, but maybe he should go with what his eyes are telling him instead.
Monroe's season numbers are currently .219/.269/.388. He totaled 15 hits for the entire month of June (and is batting .129 - 9-for-70 - over his last 19 games). As a point of reference, Magglio Ordonez got 40 hits. Monroe also had as many home runs as Sean Casey. Remember when C-Mendo defended his strikeouts by saying that's what power hitters do? Well, they also hit home runs, Craiggers.
Crouching Tigers, Hitting Triples
I didn't attend last night's game, but even from television, you could tell what a fantastic night it was at the ballpark. During every break between innings, the cameras panned the standing room only areas, which present opportunities to walk around, watch the game from different vantage points, and mingle with fellow fans that Tiger Stadium just couldn't allow.
That's just one of the enjoyable aspects of Comerica Park. Another is the outfield dimensions that create gaps for extra-base hits. Sometimes, those dimensions are aggravating, such as when the left-center field gap swallowed what looked like a sure Magglio Ordonez home run on Tuesday. But more often than not recently, those wide, deep power alleys create a chance for triples. And last night, the triple was the Tribe Killer.
Carlos Guillen and Pudge Rodriguez gave the Tigers a much-needed extra run to pad their lead late in the game with back-to-back blasts to the right-center gap. It turns out Todd Jones didn't need the extra run with the way he pitched in the ninth, but a bigger lead surely helped everyone's anxiety levels.
The New Set-Up Guy?
Leyland says he won't declare anyone the new set-up guy, for fear of the jinx, but pitching Zach Miner on consecutive nights seems to imply a new role for him until further notice. Things got a little scary with Miner in the eighth after he walked Casey Blake, and you could argue he was bailed out by Ben Francisco's over-slide of second base in the seventh. But he escaped both situations with no damage, and did a good job the last two nights, allowing no runs in 3 2/3 innings.